January ExplorationsPosted by Mary Curran
January has been a very busy month in the Early Childhood Explorations Lab! PreK-4 students investigated narcissus and amaryllis bulbs with hand lenses and predicted the number of blooms that our amaryllis will have. They will continue to make weekly observations as our “winter garden” of bulbs grows. In addition, students learned that all animals make tracks. Using tracking plates and molds, they enjoyed making impressions of deer, raccoon, squirrel and even bobcat tracks in kinetic sand and playdoh. Students also created winter habitats for forest animals using loose parts like natural blocks, cotton balls, colored felt squares and stones.
Reader, Author, TextPosted by George Seferidis
In our humanities classes, we guide our students to read slowly, closely, and deeply. We learn to value each other’s interpretations, aware that the joy of reading lies also in the layers of meaning, the interplay of ideas between readers and the text.
This winter, our 7th and 8th graders had an incredible opportunity to add another layer of complexity to the conversation–the author. On December 5th, Marjorie Agosín, the renowned poet and professor at Wellesley College, came to discuss her novel, I Lived on Butterfly Hill, with the students. Her coming-of-age novel has served as a pivotal text in engaging our students to grow as readers. Set in the vibrant city of Valparaiso, Chile, during a military coup, the protagonist character, Celeste, must flee her native land to seek political asylum in the United States. Through her journey of survivorship and self-discovery, Celeste becomes an agent of change for her community.
Agosín’s much-anticipated visit offered students an opportunity to discuss the questions they generated throughout their reading and during class discussions. Together, they shared interpretations of the text, asked poignant questions about Dr. Agosín’s process, and were exultant in learning that the sequel would soon be released. Our 2-hour exchange clearly demonstrated our students’ knowledge, maturity, and sophistication. In fact, Dr. Agosín said to them, “This is the beauty of literature. Because I think one thing, and you interpreted it, and it goes beyond what I see.” As our discussion came to a close, Dr. Agosín shared her collection of arpilleras, tapestries made by Chilean revolutionaries fighting against censorship and the oppression, which she has been collecting since 1974. With reverence, our students understood in real time what they were seeing: real evidence of that which they had experienced through text. It was a rare, unforgettable moment– experiencing the gift of literature unfolding before our eyes–the creation of meaning and connection between reader, author, and text.
Third Grade GeologistsPosted by Mary Curran
In November, third graders traveled to the CT Audubon for an inquiry based program on geology. They learned that igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic are three types of rocks, and that metamorphic is the most common type of rock found in CT. Third graders worked in collaborative groups and used their investigative skills to gather data about various rocks and minerals. Students observed color and luster, performed tests on hardness and streak and used field guides to identify the type of rock or mineral. Our program continued outside with a hike in the Larsen Sanctuary. Various rocks and minerals were observed along the way, and students used outdoor kits to determine their hardness and streak color. Thank you to the CT Audubon for providing third graders with an engaging introduction to geology and a full morning of hands-on activities.
Layers of the Earth in Clay…and then IRL!Posted by wenyiche
The theme of sixth grade science is Earth Science. As an introduction, students made models of earth out of clay using different colors for different layers. They started with inner core, then added the outer core and mantle finished with a blue and green crust as the outer layer. Once their models were complete, they cut them in half to see all the layers.
We then visited Mianus River Gorge Preserve which is a quarry to examine some of the layers that make up the crust in real life! We hiked and had the chance to examine several minerals – quartz, mica, feldspar. What a nice way to take advantage of a sunny, fall day!
Lifting Our EyesPosted by Vincent O'Hara
The great British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton once said “If geography itself has any significance it is that we are made to lift our eyes from our small provincial selves to the whole magnificent world.” The seventh-grade humanities students have begun their year-long journey around the world. Studying the aspects of culture, they are learning about how the language, religion, government, daily life, art, economy, history, and social groups make a place unique. Our class is beginning with identifying US geography and from there we will travel due south to South America for our next novel and cultural exploration. Along the way, we will be lifting our eyes to all the beautiful geographic and cultural diversity our world has to offer.
A Walk in the WoodsPosted by Cameron Ross-MacCormack
Fifth graders were super excited to get going on their outdoor, fall field experience last Friday. The goal, to spend the day together, outside, getting to know one another. The group spent the morning walking in a big loop around Paine Open Space in Easton. They trekked across fields, over stone walls and footbridges, noticing fungi and insects and encouraging each other to keep going even with tired feet. They spent the afternoon celebrating with a barbeque, a bonfire and a class dance-off. Reflecting back on their three hour walk, students were nothing but grateful, exclaiming “I can’t believe we get to do this at school!” As individuals, fifth graders surprised themselves with their own strength and endurance and together set a tone of perseverance, trust and solid teamwork for the school year ahead!